PERTH’S Theresa Bates was so disillusioned with the slow diagnosis of her mother’s dementia and the poor follow-up support, she decided to take the bull by the horns and do a three year degree in dementia care.
Ms Bates says she was totally in the dark about what to expect and how to prepare for her mother’s dementia, with only a bunch of flyers to go on.
“When my mum was showing signs of cognitive impairment we battled with her GP to run tests and do an MRI, but he would not enter into the discussion,” Ms Bates says. “It took us two years for her to get a diagnosis.”
“When we contacted the larger organisations we were sent a lovely young girl with a handful of information flyers and that was it.
“I don’t know if it is they are limited with the information they can tell or that they do not know the facts.
“I saw counsellors, gurus and people employed by ‘expert organisations’ over the years and they all claimed to understand how I was feeling.
“The wakeup call came for me when I realised none of them had experienced this for themselves.”
Sadly her mother Maria passed away two years ago, but in a fitting tribute, Ms Bates is now a qualified dementia care specialist, helping people negotiate the minefield of looking after their loved one.
“I provide correct knowledge about main types of dementia, how to tackle the aged care system or the NDIS, completing paperwork, referrals to Aged Care Assessments and most importantly, the trajectory of the disease and how to input care plans to adapt to behaviours and problems that may arise,” Ms Bates says.
“I also offer a longer term consultancy where I handle all the dementia care for families for their loved one. These are one month, six months or 12 months.
“My philosophy around dementia is ‘Be Proactive, not Re-Active.’”
Ms Bates says she recently advised the son of a man with dementia.
“The first two hour appointment we covered the illness he had, the signs and symptoms that accompany that type of dementia, what the likely trajectory was and what further symptoms to expect such as walking difficulties, incontinence and further speech problems,” she says.
Dementia impacts close to half a million Australians and almost 1.6 million people are involved in their care. The number of people living with dementia is set to double in the next 25 years.
As part of Dementia Action Week (September 19 -25) Ms Bates wants people to be aware that the condition is much more than memory loss and does not just affect older people.
“Dementia is the second highest killer in Australia and the highest for woman, yet everyone thinks it is breast cancer,” she says.
To find out more go to dementiacarespecialist.com.au and dementia.org.au